was known as QZR—was known. Now the Taliban militant is simply the late Qari
Ziaur Rahman. The civilized world can thank the troops of the No Slack Battalion
2/327 and their 2nd Battalion 8th Regiment Marine Regiment
and 3BCT “Rakkasan” Airborne colleagues. Embedded journalists Mike Boettcher
and his son Carlos followed the No Slack Task Force on a series of dangerous
missions, culminating with a strike against Rahman on his home turf. Shot by
the Boettchers, the action is as real as it gets in David Salzberg & Christian
Tureaud’s The Hornet’s Nest (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
as producers and cinematographers, the Boettchers were deeply embedded with the
No Slack troops, very much in the line of Taliban fire. A veteran war correspondent,
Mike Boettcher had done this sort of thing before, serving as a fulltime embed
for Nightline. This was Carlos
Boettcher’s first time covering a war zone, but his father reluctantly agreed
to let him share his assignment. Despite his concern, he hoped the same forces
that bound the troops together would help repair their somewhat estranged
probably is not much of a spoiler to report that much proceeded as planned. The
real point to Nest is the footage
they jointly recorded, which is absolutely incredible. Remarkable for their
clarity of sound and visuals, Nest’s warfighting
incidents are even more intense and
far easier to follow than anything seen in Junger’s Korengal films or Brothers at War and Severe Clear, documenting
the Iraq War experience. At times, Salzberg & Tureaud are able to shift
between each embed’s footage for multiple vantage points on the chaotic battles.
Nest probably realizes the worst
fears of several Columbia School of Journalism faculty members regarding
embedded reporters. While the senior Emmy winning Boettcher scrupulously avoids
political judgments, he makes no secret of his deep emotional involvement in
the events he covers. It is easy to understand why, because the audience sees
what he sees. It is tough to stay neutral watching Afghan children fall victim
to IEDs or medivac helicopters take fire from Taliban forces, but the Boettchers
witness it all in the heat and smoke of real-time war.
For obvious reasons, Nest has followed an unconventional distribution strategy,
releasing in markets with large military populations before its New York run.
As it happens, it opens here the same day as Junger’s Korengal. Both films are well worth seeing, but Nest is in fact the more powerful of the
two. No other contemporary war doc so eerily captures the whistling sound of
bullets whizzing overhead and when No Slack soldiers mourn their fallen
brothers, Nest packs a greater punch
to the emotional solar plexus. Very highly recommended, The Hornet’s Nest opens tomorrow (5/30) in New York at the AMC
Empire and Village 7 theaters.
Labels: Afghanistan, Documentary, Mike Boettcher